4-vehicle crash at 16th/102nd, no serious injuries

February 11th, 2016 at 3:39 pm Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | No Comments »

Thanks to Gill for the tip – we just checked out a crash that blocked northbound 16th SW for a while at the intersection with SW 102nd. King County Sheriff’s Deputies told us at the scene that four vehicles were involved but no one was seriously hurt. Right now, as of 3:40 pm, they’re about to tow the last vehicle, so the intersection should be fully open again shortly.

P.S. Breaking-news tips for White Center (and West Seattle) are welcome at any time – text or call 206-293-6302 – thank you!.

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White Center scene: Ballot van at Greenbridge

February 9th, 2016 at 1:25 pm Posted in Election, White Center news | No Comments »

No voting for this area today, but the King County Elections ballot van is at Greenbridge as usual, until 8 pm – just over the line in the Seattle Public Schools district, today is a special election for two levies. We stopped by to photograph Joe and Mary at the van, 9720 8th SW; as of noon, they had received 49 ballots.

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Southwest Little League registration today

February 6th, 2016 at 3:36 am Posted in Sports, White Center news | No Comments »

From Southwest Little League – it’s signup day!

Registration for the Southwest Little League begins Saturday, February 6th and 13th, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, at the Log Cabin at Steve Cox Memorial Ball Park. All boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 16 are welcome. If your child lives or attends school between SW Juneau St. and 128th St. SW you are probably within the Southwest Little League boundary! Divisions include T-Ball, Coach-Pitch, Minors, Majors, 50/70 and Juniors. Tryouts for Minor & Major divisions will be held Saturday, February 20th, 2016, at Steve Cox Memorial Ball Park. Please visit www.southwestlittleleague.org for more information about signing up for Southwest Little League.

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Annexation revelations at meeting in West Seattle

February 2nd, 2016 at 9:40 pm Posted in Annexation, White Center news | 4 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Tonight’s meeting of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council focused on future planning for not only the southernmost part of the area the group covers, but also White Center, since the group – WWRHAH for short – thinks the two areas should be looked at as potentially one, given the possibility of annexation.

During the meeting, new information about that possibility came to light. Kenny Pittman, long a City of Seattle point person on annexation, said it looks like the State Legislature is going to pass a new tax-credit incentive for annexation – higher than the previous one; he said it’s made it out of the Senate and is expected to win passage in the House.

If that is finalized – and if the Seattle City Council votes to pursue annexation – he expected it could go to a vote in North Highline as soon as November 2017. But the council isn’t necessarily a lock; underscoring that, the new West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember, Lisa Herbold, was in the audience. Her position toward annexation during the campaign was less than enthusiastic.

In the meantime, the proposal has been introduced to the King County Boundary Review Board but won’t be moved forward in the process until and unless the tax credit is finalized, Pittman said.

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin, at the WWRHAH meeting as was NHUAC board member Pat Price, told Pittman he needed to come to this community with an update, since even the tax-credit status was news to them.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Board meeting this month

February 1st, 2016 at 12:01 am Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | No Comments »

The first Thursday of the month brings a board meeting for the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this month, rather than a full-scale community meeting. Announced by president Barbara Dobkin:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council will not be holding a regular monthly meeting on Thursday, 2/4. We will instead be holding a board meeting at White Center Pizza at 6:30 – the public is invited. We will resume our regular monthly meetings on Thursday, March 3. Please check the NHUAC website for details: northhighlineuac.org
WC Pizza and Spaghetti House is at 10231 16th SW.

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‘Stories of Refugees and Immigrants’ exhibit coming to Dubsea Coffee next month

January 31st, 2016 at 12:24 am Posted in Arts, White Center news | No Comments »

An inspiring and emotional art show is on the way to White Center, per this announcement:

Art Gallery: Stories of Refugees and Immigrants

Dubsea Coffee
9910 8th Ave SW

Reception: February 11th 6-9PM, Gallery: February

The “visual stories” in this exhibit bear witness to the memories, struggles and dreams of refugees, asylees and immigrants of diverse ethnicities who now call White Center home. Their paintings illustrate that emotions conveyed and evoked by a single image can tell a story of a thousand words, build bridges of understanding and promote peaceful coexistence.

Thanks to a generous grant from 4Culture; the leadership of White Center Community Development Association, King County Library System and Network for Integrating New Americans; and the support of our visual storytelling workshop hosts at South Seattle College, New Futures Arbor Heights, King County Housing Authority Seola Gardens, Cascade Middle School and Highline College, we were able to offer a series of eight workshops to representatives of White Center’s foreign-born communities.

Initially, workshop participants questioned why anyone would care about their stories. Yet the more they reflected on the often daunting challenges they had overcome, the more their self-confidence grew. Soon, they began to believe in the power of their (visual) voices. Their stories did matter. In fact, they could help those who would follow in their footsteps as well as those who continue to face human rights abuses and/or extreme poverty in their native lands.

This exhibit offers never-before-seen glimpses into the life-stories of White Center’s refugees and immigrants. Drawn into their inner worlds, we receive clues to what it’s like to leave—or be forced to flee—one’s native land and rebuild one’s life in a foreign country. After reflecting on the paintings and accompanying captions, you too will be moved to honor the courage, resilience and irrepressible hope of those who contributed, often bravely.

At the end of the exhibit you will find a brief feedback form. We would be grateful if you could share your reactions and offer any words of encouragement for the workshop participants.

Finally, we would like to thank Dubsea Coffee for hosting this exhibit through the end of February. Please join us 6:00-9:00 pm, Friday, February 11, for the reception, an opportunity to learn more about the workshops and hear from some of the participants.

Erika Berg
Workshop Facilitator and Guest Curator

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TONIGHT: Open-house event as White Center Chamber of Commerce works to ‘reconnect’

January 28th, 2016 at 3:53 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news | Comments Off on TONIGHT: Open-house event as White Center Chamber of Commerce works to ‘reconnect’

Sorry for the short notice, but this just came in this afternoon:

Open house at Sky’s Barber Shop in the business district. 9650 16th Ave SW, today, Thursday, January 28, 2016 – starts at 6 pm, ends around 10 pm.

Food, drinks, and getting to know each other.

The chamber has been inactive for some time and is revitalized and working diligently to reconnect with the community of White Center.

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White Center businesses: Phnom Khiev Market closing

January 25th, 2016 at 7:55 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center news | 6 Comments »

Phnom Khiev Market will soon shut its doors for a final time, ending a five-year run as one of the area’s most-diverse grocery stores. Known for carrying a wide selection of Mexican, Chinese, and southeast Asian grocery items, the market has been a reflection of the multicultural population that surrounds it.

Manager Cha Khiev told WCN that store leadership decided against renewing the store’s lease for the building at the corner of 16th Avenue SW and the SW White Center Cutoff when it ends in February. “It’s a lot of work and too much overhead,” says Khiev. “We decided it’s just not worth it.”

There had been outside speculation that a rent increase was forcing the market from its space. Khiev says no, that particular change was “normal.” A more-unwelcomed change cited by Khiev as a contributing factor was “too many problems around White Center.” Khiev says he has noticed a marked increase in the number of transients in the area, which has led to some general negative perception of the area surrounding the market.

When asked if he know whether the landlord had a new tenant for the space, Khiev said he didn’t know for certain.

As of our conversation with the manager, there was no set final day of business for Phnom Khiev; a customer tells us they were told this is the last week. Earlier in the month, management was allowing inventory to dwindle to the point where it no longer makes sense to open. In the meantime, only meat and vegetables were being restocked.

Randall Hauk, reporting for White Center Now

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About the big King County Sheriff’s Office response at 15th/Roxbury

January 24th, 2016 at 6:33 pm Posted in Crime, White Center news | Comments Off on About the big King County Sheriff’s Office response at 15th/Roxbury

After texts wondering about the big King County Sheriff’s Office response at 15th and Roxbury, we went over to check out what was up. Deputies were searching a car at the Texaco station on the southwest corner of the intersection. They tell us it’s a stolen car. If you see somebody pulled over and a sizable law enforcement turnout, that’s often the case – a so-called “felony stop” (since auto theft is a felony) calls for backup. We’ll check tomorrow on whether anything else was found and whether arrests were made (at least one suspect was being questioned).

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And the second driver-hits-building crash of the morning …

January 21st, 2016 at 11:34 am Posted in Businesses, White Center news | Comments Off on And the second driver-hits-building crash of the morning …

For the second time this morning, a driver has hit a White Center storefront. Earlier, it was Noble Barton; then at mid-morning, the Smoke Shop on the other side of the 9600 block of 16th SW. No injuries this time, either; it was a case of mistaking the accelerator for the brake, we were told at the scene. No interruption in shop operations.

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UPDATE: Driver crashes into Noble Barton’s front door; suspect arrested in West Seattle

January 21st, 2016 at 8:34 am Posted in restaurants, White Center news | 3 Comments »

(WCN photos)
8:34 AM: Thanks to Matt for the tip – a car crashed into the front door of Noble Barton in downtown White Center early this morning. We went by a little while ago to check on whether that would affect the popular restaurant/bar’s operations today. Short answer: No, they’ll be open as usual. Nobody hurt.

We’re checking with the King County Sheriff’s Office to find out what happened to the driver, who the folks at NB told us was reported to be suspected of DUI.

11:01 AM: Just procured information from KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Cindi West:

This morning about 2:15 we responded to the NOBLE BARTON business at 9635 16 Ave Sw. Someone called and said a green Ford, SUV had done a hit and run at the Noble Barton bar at that location.

About 2:26 Seattle Fire called us and said they had a woman in the 7100 block of 30 Ave SW who said she had been involved in a collision. She had been driving a green Ford Explorer. The woman told Seattle Fire that after the accident she had returned to her house in the 7100 block of 30 Ave SW and called 911 to report the accident because she had sustained a head injury in the accident. The woman, a 57 year old local woman, was arrested for DUI and Hit and Run. She was transported to Highline Hospital for treatment and was not booked this morning due to her injury.

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What to do about crumbling unincorporated-area roads? County task force’s recommendations

January 20th, 2016 at 6:38 pm Posted in Transportation, White Center news | 2 Comments »

It’s been years since the county warned North Highline residents that the roads were in sad shape and bound to get sadder due to money trouble. Late today, the county announced the results of work by its Bridges and Roads Task Force to try to figure out how to fix that. The package is a big one, with reports and recommendations – read about it here. Short version – it suggests regional, even statewide solutions, that range from new taxes to trying to cut road-repair costs via prison labor; the full final report is here. The task force members are listed here (no NH names jump out at us, but let us know if we missed someone).

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YOU CAN HELP! Literacy tutors needed at Beverly Park Elementary

January 17th, 2016 at 10:44 pm Posted in How to Help, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off on YOU CAN HELP! Literacy tutors needed at Beverly Park Elementary

Can you spare some time to help students improve their reading skills? Reading Partners is looking for you – on behalf of 36 students awaiting tutors at Beverly Park Elementary School:

Reading Partners is a nonprofit literacy organization that recruits and trains community volunteers to work one-on-one with elementary students who are behind grade level benchmarks in reading. At each of our school sites we have a dedicated reading center where all tutoring takes place. Volunteers are asked to commit to as little as one-hour of tutoring each week. We ask that each volunteer commits to the same one-hour to work with the same student weekly. During every session tutors follow a structured, research-based curriculum with the support of a full-time AmeriCorps Site Coordinator. Additionally, we offer initial and on-going training and support for every volunteer.

Anyone interested in getting involved can follow this link to sign up or contact Reading Partners at volunteerSEA@readingpartners.org.

RP says Beverly Park (1201 South 104th) has 36 students awaiting a tutor. Tutoring runs 10 am-3:35 pm Mondays-Thursdays.

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What’s next for our state’s first ‘traffic garden,’ coming to White Center’s Dick Thurnau Memorial Park

January 17th, 2016 at 2:23 am Posted in Parks, White Center news | 8 Comments »

By Jordan Anderton
UW NewsLab / Special to White Center Now

White Center’s Dick Thurnau Memorial Park is gaining a traffic garden this May.

The traffic garden will be a place for children and adults to learn traffic laws and the rules of the road on both foot and bike. White Center community members weighed in at a public meeting last Thursday, discussing community goals and the next steps for the project.

While traffic gardens are common in Northern European countries, this will be the first for Washington state and one of a few in the U.S. Traffic gardens were created with communal activity in mind and are essentially streetscapes painted to scale in parks to facilitate proper road practices.

Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC), the YES! Foundation of White Center, King County Parks, and Alta Planning + Design have worked alongside White Center community members to have the traffic garden represent current community goals brought up by residents.

There were four goals distinguished within the community: quality education, access to affordable housing, access to livable wages and strong, healthy families. The traffic garden will provide an outlet for creating and maintaining strong and healthy families.

“Community members can expect a facility designed for fun, learning, and inspiration. It’s very important that this be a collaborative process that is for and of the community. Having the community voice and participation is the key to (our) success,” said Ed Ewing of CBC at the meeting.

Ewing opened the meeting with a brief overview of the traffic garden design plans. The traffic garden will replace what were described as minimally used tennis courts at the park. Construction of the traffic garden is not expected to affect the existing disc-golf course at the park, but ways to improve that course were discussed in order to fit both intended uses. Bike-polo possibilities were mentioned as well.

Safety was a large concern voiced throughout the meeting. Those in charge of design promised that there would be proper fencing to distinguish between both the traffic garden and disc golf course.

Steve Durrant from Alta, leading the design of the traffic garden, turned to meeting-goers to sketch ideas for what artwork they would like to incorporate and write comments about challenges or concerns they anticipate.

“Instead of having (instruction done in a parking lot) with cones, we will have (the traffic garden) painted to scale, created just for the purpose of teaching kids and adults roadways. This will allow for easy usage for bikes, toy cars, and walking, so you get the whole experience.” Durrant emphasized inclusiveness in this learning environment.

The project team stressed their desire for the traffic garden to represent the White Center community’s multi-cultural diversity. “We came up with the idea of a global village feel, to include all members and cultures of our community, including our history of being on Duwamish land,” said Tiffany Mowatt, who works with both YES! and White Center Community Development Association, was born and raised in White Center.

Butch Lovelace, program manager at King County Parks, anticipates a positive response from White Center community members: “We hope it is used by many people; we will be able to provide bikes to those that don’t own one. We hope people who may not otherwise consider learning how to ride a bike do so. It can be transformative. Cascade is a great organization, so we hope people take advantage of their programming, but we also hope people just drop in and use the facility.”

The traffic garden continues to seek community input via Cascade Bicycle Club, with more outreach – including youth engagement – to come.

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TOMORROW: Community meeting for ‘traffic garden’ at Dick Thurnau Park

January 13th, 2016 at 6:03 pm Posted in Lakewood Park, White Center news | 1 Comment »

We mentioned three months ago that this was in the works – and now the first public meeting about it will bring out lots of information. Tomorrow (Thursday) night, you’re invited to come hear about the “traffic garden” planned at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. From the King County Parks website:

In collaboration with King County Parks, White Center CDA, the YES Foundation and other community partners, Cascade Bicycle Club is building the state’s first traffic garden in Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. The park already has a happenin’ disk golf course but an often forgotten tennis court which allows for the perfect space to build a traffic garden. Come to the meeting to see the proposals and give your feedback We would love to hear your input!

Hold up, what’s a traffic garden? It’s a miniature streetscape for youth and adults to learn to practice bike handling and traffic safety. Although the concept is relatively new in the United States, traffic gardens have been in use in other countries for many years (see video above). They are particularly helpful in learning appropriate bike etiquette. Bikes are becoming much more common in King County and with new confusing systems such as bike boxes (those giant green squares) it’s so important for cyclists to understand the rules of the road. Once the facility is built, Cascade will offer youth and adult bicycling programs at the traffic garden.

The meeting is tomorrow night, 5:30-7:30 pm at Dick Thurnau Park in the TAF Bethaday Community Learning Space (605 SW 108th).

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Woman’s body found in White Center home, apparently weeks after death

January 13th, 2016 at 11:32 am Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | Comments Off on Woman’s body found in White Center home, apparently weeks after death

The King County Sheriff’s Office confirms that an investigation continues into the death of a woman whose body was found inside her White Center home last weekend, apparently weeks after her death. KCSO had been called by someone who noticed a door had been open for at least a day at the house in the 1800 block of SW 98th, and realized the resident hadn’t been seen in a while. KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Cindi West tells WCN, “Deputies responded and once inside they found the resident, who appeared to have been dead for weeks. Some windows had been open on the house and it appeared as though someone had gone through drawers etc. We don’t know if this occurred before or after the death of the woman.” The case remains investigation, and the county Medical Examiner is working to determine what caused the woman’s death.

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Evergreen High School before, Evergreen High School again?

January 12th, 2016 at 10:06 pm Posted in Education, Evergreen High School, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off on Evergreen High School before, Evergreen High School again?

Received from organizers of a campaign to turn the Evergreen campus back into Evergreen High School:

A coalition called ONE EVERGREEN made up of concerned parents, teachers, and alumni has started a petition to undo what they perceive as a flawed educational model at the former Evergreen High School because they feel it leaves the north end of the Highline School District dramatically underserved.

Please sign their petition if you support reuniting Evergreen Campus into one high school again.


In 2008, Evergreen High School was one of several conventional high schools in the Highline School District rendered into three autonomous schools sharing the same campus (“small schools”) under the hope that a reduction in the principal-to-student ratio would improve graduation rates. The sales pitch at the time said teachers would get to know all the students better, which would boost test scores.

Reality has not met expectations. Instead, redundant principals, a limited range of classes, a fractured sense of community, high teacher turnover, and only 35 classes for students to choose from have left families feeling cheated. It is easy to see why when contrasted with the school spirit, sports, band, and 105 classes available to students at conventional high schools in the same district.

The ONE EVERGREEN Coalition asks that you educate yourself on the inequities of small schools and sign the petition to reunite the Evergreen Campus.

For more information, including quotes by students, demographics, charts showing Evergreen teachers’ years of experience over time, and course catalog comparisons from Highline high schools, please visit evergreensuccess.org

Here’s a one-sheet the group is circulating.

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How many stores is too many – or too few? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council convenes forum on marijuana

January 11th, 2016 at 11:20 am Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 16 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

“This is a conversation about marijuana and what it means about the health and future of our community,” is the statement with which North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin began NHUAC’s January meeting.

The heart of that conversation last Thursday night was, how many marijuana stores in an area are too many – and is there any way to limit how many wind up in North Highline? Three licensed recreational stores already are open – two in Top Hat and one in White Center – with more seeking licenses; late in the meeting, it was pointed out, though, that last year’s crackdown on dispensaries already had dramatically reduced the overall number of places where marijuana could be obtained.

The meeting happened in a forum format, with the four panelists at the front of the room, rather than as a NHUAC meeting. They included North Highline’s two State House representatives, days before their return to Olympia for the new legislative session – Rep. Eileen Cody and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon. Also, King County Sheriff’s Office’s area precinct commander, Major Jerrell Wills, was a late addition to the panel. First to speak was Laura Hitchcock from the King County Executive’s Office and Department of Public Health. An “interdisciplinary look at marijuana policy” is part of what she works on, she explained, working with a variety of agencies and departments.

She said they work on “balanced goals, given that our electorate did support legalization,” including “eliminating the black market” and “public safety” as well as “keep(ing) marijuana away from kids (because) it’s bad for the developing brain.” Also: “Closing the medical-marijuana loophole.” She discussed research while acknowledging there isn’t a lot of research on the effects of siting marijuana businesses since legalization is relatively recent. The county received a grant to look at local ordinances – “what kind of things were local governments and local communities wanting to regulate … mostly regarding the siting of marijuana businesses.” Regarding siting, the research found that “mixed-use zones” and “commercial zones” were the most likely to allow stores; the size of the store was the most common aspect to be regulated. Only one jurisdiction required a marijuana-business license.

The research is online and will be updated, Hitchcock said. “Partly because of this research, we were included in a new study that just started January 1st, a National Institutes of Health study to look at the impact of those ordinances – implementation of the policies, how they relate to retailer density, and … product, price, potency (in the retail market).” Plus: “We’re going to look at whether ay types of policies mitigate potential negative effects” such as youth use and impaired driving, among other outcomes. It’s a three-year study.

She added that King County and Seattle Children’s Hospital just found out they got a grant for $500,000 for 18 months for a countywide youth marijuana-prevention-education program. They’ll work with organizations that work with the groups that are at highest risks. Its specific goals: “We’ll do an assessment and planning in the first few months and as we implement the project we’ll look at prevention of marijuana use by ages 12-20 … supporting the development of reducing initiation strategies … environmental and system change strategies,” such as zoning. The program also will be trying to increase participation by stakeholders such as schools and service providers. There’ll be a youth advisory board for the entire county. “As King County has been working on this issue, we’ve heard from the community, especially in this area, about concerns of (siting) and youth impacts.” So they’re looking at changes the state made in 2015, and also at experiences Seattle is having, and the goal is to have some recommendations for the King County Council by the end of the first quarter of this year.

King County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Jerrell Wills opened by saying Sheriff John Urquhart opposes the granting of any further marijuana business licenses in this area.

The input the county has with the state is similar to that of liquor licenses, he said. The sheriff believes “you have your fair share,” Maj. Wills said.

Next to speak, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon.

He worked on legislation this past year regarding financial effects, including the tax levied at three steps of the marijuana production/selling process. They were looking at levying the tax “at one step of the process,” especially because Oregon was just coming online and they didn’t want Washington taxes to be “vastly higher” than Oregon. There was a sales drop in Washington when Oregon started selling, he said, though they don’t know how much of that was because Oregon pot smokers had been coming into Washington until it was legal in their state.

“One of the things that was interesting about this issue – we weren’t just the first state to legalize marijuana, but the first state to have a legal, regulated market in marijuana,” beyond decriminalization, Fitzgibbon said. “We had to do a lot of guesswork about what was going to be the right way to set up a system.” Colorado was going through it at the same time and one advantage they had, he said, was a regulated medical-marijuana system, unlike our state’s “gray area.”

So taxes were consolidated and lowered somewhat, and now shared with local governments, as a result of last year’s changes, he said, figuring out “what’s the right split … do you give some of the money to a jurisdiction like Federal Way that has banned marijuana from being sold in their borders … how much do you give local governments and what can they use it for. … Even now we’re still flying blind on how much money is going to come in from 502.” The money is “lower than a lot of the estimates were.” And he says the state is somewhat hampered by the fact the feds won’t allow research on its impacts. “So we’re going a lot off of anecdotes, people’s gut instincts on how much pot people are smoking, how much is in the black market, how much is in the legal market …” So “we ended up providing not as much money as local governments wanted,” which leads to communities like this one wondering if the county will “rope off the money coming from stores in WC and keep that money for use in WC? That’s a legitimate question … to figure out.” And that, he said, is also a reasonable question for Seattle to figure out regarding an area with a concentration of marijuana businesses.

Rep. Eileen Cody said that “from the medical side it’s been interesting.”

She said that so many things have changed over the years of medical marijuana ‘because we believed it had benefit for people.’ Then, “things kind of got out of hand … and we did try to pass a bill that would have been similar to what we’re doing now, medical marijuana would have been grown, and tested …” She recapped the travails of trying to regulate medical marijuana, and then-Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s veto of parts of the bill. “Probably would have been better if she’d vetoed the whole bill,” Rep. Cody said, because the parts she didn’t led to growth in the number of dispensaries “which got totally out of hand.”

“It’s an interesting issue when you get into a marijuana fight – it’s not partisan,” Cody said, with some supporters and opponents in both parties, “you can’t tell where someone’s going to be at by whether there’s a D or R by their name. And already … there’s a lot of money involved,” with many more marijuana lobbyists. “Thats only going to grow, kind of like big tobacco. … In this past year we did get legislation passed to be sure that the dispensaries … the recreational marijuana is tested much more than the medical marijuana was,” and they’ve been trying to work on that.

Overall, she said, “there were some hard feelings on the marijuana legislation,” even people telling her she was a discredit to her profession (nursing). She says the medical-marijuana community is still concerned that there won’t be enough and that recreational stores won’t carry what they need – lower THC, higher cannabinoid, opposite of what recreational users want. They can’t force stores to carry it, she said, but they will need a special license if they want to. “We’re trying to get it so there’ll be more training, some kind of certification for people who are more knowledgeable about the medical side of things … but as Joe mentioned, there’s no research (that’s been allowed).”

Overall, “things have calmed down a bit … and the medical side has accepted that this is how things are going to move forward.” On the medical side, it’s been a “very interesting trip,” Rep. Cody said, even as they tried to have it treated as a drug – with the request for the feds to treat it as “Schedule 2,” allowing doctors to prescribe it. “It’s a very hard thing for medical professionals, but if it helps, they want people to be able to get it.” She lauded King County for closing down some of the dispensaries – 15 out of 18, according to the latest stats – and she hopes that Seattle will get some closed down too.

Hitchcock added, regarding recently passed legislation, that local governments got the ability to reduce buffer zones to as little as 250 feet. “I think there will be a lot of activity around that.”

Fitzgibbon said it’ll take years to know what the effects are in criminal justice and other areas. “We know local government has faced expense in just implementing the law … coming up with policies … (especially) starting from scratch with rules on how to site a farm, a processing plant, a retail store.” He said that Mexican cartels have “seen their revenue crash” as legalization and decriminalization spread across the country, but so far there’s no evidence of changes in crime as a result.

Audience Q & A included a question from a resident in unincorporated Skyway concerned about “the implementation of actual retail stores … the small areas of Skyway and White Center, a population of only about 35,000, have all the retail stores licensed so far – 7, and two more in the process -” for unincorporated King County, which he said would be akin to 200 for the city of Seattle. He said he’s concerned that trend will continue.

Karen Freeman from the county executive’s office, sitting in the audience, said, “Part of the issue is that the county used to have 12 very large unincorporated areas, and seven of them have been annexed in recent years. So the urban unincorporated area of KC has shrunk significantly – five now, all south of Seattle – and so those are the (only) areas where people in KC can apply to site. … So you end up with this concentration.” The Skyway resident said the state policy “doesn’t look at that at all.” King County’s Hitchcock said the state has no authority and responsibility to determine if there’s an overconcentration. “Is it equitable, just, fair?” asked the Skyway resident. “If not, should it be changed immediately?” Hitchcock said the changing of buffer rules might lead to more areas where they are allowable.

Another attendee said that she wonders if the county and state are left open to a lawsuit for disproportionate effects on communities of color among others.

Fitzgibbon noted that the concentration of dispensaries has dropped, but with 502, yes, you probably will see more stores in White Center on a per-capita basis than in Snoqualmie, for example, “because people are more spread out there.” He said it’s too soon to say if the concentration of 502 stores will lead to undesirable effects – including public safety – because they’re regulated, unlike the dispensaries. “I know it’s going to be better than it was during the bad days of the dispensaries.”

Hitchcock said they’re interested in hearing from residents on “what should be the dispersion model” if communities are disproportionately affected, starting with what those effects area. “That’s a conversation that the county interbranch team is starting to have,” including a look at zoning effects.

“What about the licenses in the process at this point?” – would they be grandfathered? “Yes,” Hitchcock said. Another county rep in the room said that they’re working to come up with land-use reps this quarter.

NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon, who is affiliated with what’s currently White Center’s only 502 store, talked about the realities of licensing, including having a location where the landlord will allow it. She noted that WC has “a lot of vacant stores,” and business owners who hold out “until the property taxes are due,” for example. She mentioned the SODO openings because owners who get licenses “have to be open somewhere.” And she suggested the commercial property owners in the unincorporated areas are “not at the table,” and are being affected by vacancies because there’s no sustainble-economic planning.

The attendee concerned about the social/economic-justice effects noted that where negative effects are concentrated, the positive effects are diffused.

Another attendee asked about what KCSO Maj. Wills is seeing regarding crime – he pointed out the crimes that have happened at the NiMBiN store in Top Hat, for example (without naming it). “Obviously the cash is a concern for WC and Skyway,” Wills began. He also said some of these businesses don’t necessarily embrace the KCSO presence. He also recalled seeing the “lines” of customers at dispensaries that are now closed – “what they were doing on their way in and on their way out wasn’t positive, I (was) hearing from our deputies.” Overall, he said, they still have big concerns, and see this as “a big challenge for our community and the Sheriff’s Office.”

NHUAC president Dobkin pointed out that a processing facility opening in the Top Hat area is in the same building as a “collective,” and it’s close to residential, “mostly low-income apartments.”

A rep from the county permitting department said that the owner of the processing facility has come to the county but hasn’t been in active contact since spring. “They have submitted the application but have not followed through, but I’m not sure that it’s going to open any time soon.” Dobkin said she was concerned because she’s seen “active work” on the building. Use up to 2,000 square feet doesn’t require a permit, she said, or for retail, up to 5,000 square feet; with a permit, it could go up to 30,000 square feet, and that would require community input.

Dobkin noted that people are notified within a certain radius and that nearby residents in some areas might not necessarily respond. She didn’t hear about it until it was too late. The permitting rep said applicants are required to put up a 4 x 8 sign, including a phone number – “you can always call us to ask what the sign is about.”

NHUAC board member Liz Giba observed that “there are a lot more questions than there are answers. We don’t know what this is all going to mean, eventually. I really resent the (sentiment) from King County that we can be used as a guinea pig to gather data from. I think this neighborhood needs to be supported, not used. So I’m wondering where in the conversation is the county regarding at least putting a moratorium in place for Skyway and King County, given that we’ve got more than our fair share of stores. … Are you looking at or recommending a moratorium until we can see how all this is going to play out?”

The permitting rep said, “We want to talk with the community, we want to hear from the community about what your concerns are … we want to hear that from you guys.” She mentioned businesses using multiple addresses for license applications because they then will figure out where they will locate if and when they get a license – so the number of applicants is actually fewer than it appears.

“But we’ve seen the results,” said the Skyway resident. “All the stores are in White Center and Skyway.” (So far there actually is one White Center store, two in Top Hat.) He said he’s not seeing King County’s comments; the county permitting rep says, “We say yes from a permitting point of view” – picked up another rep, “if the application is in an area zoned for this use.” But, the Skyway rep said, you’re asked if you approve of the applicant.

“So do we need a new law?” Giba asked.

“You need new zoning in King County,” Rep. Cody said.

A county rep said, “They’re not required to take our feedback into consideration when making a decision.” She used as an example liquor-license applications that were approved even when the county said that it wasn’t appropriate zoning.

There are now 22 stores to be allotted in unincorporated King County and “the smallest cities,” said the Skyway rep.

Rep. Cody said consumers/patients are voicing concerns about their access, and it’s important to take into account the fact dispensaries have been closed.

“As a nurse, how many points of access would you think are necessary for 18,000 people?” asked the Skyway resident.

“We have no idea,” said Rep. Cody, noting again that there used to be a multitude of dispensaries. Seattle, for example, had more than 200 of them, and the LCB was looking at how many could be sited. “Now 42,” added the Skyway resident.

After some contentious back and forth, a county rep pointed out that “a lot of people voted for (I-502)” so the county’s job is to figure out how to get feedback and how to balance differing opinions and interests. “We want to hear more from you about what you want, what you don’t want, what you like.”

“But this conversation isn’t happening elsewhere in unincorporated King County,” pointed out the Skyway resident.

One White Center resident who said he supports 502 says he just wants it to be a “safe place” where “young families can come down … I want them to feel safe in bringing the kids downtown … I just don’t know how it’s going to be regulated. … Where does this leave us in the meantime? In the next year, are we going to have more stores in downtown White Center, and how is it going to be regulated?”

Hitchcock said the county could change zoning and limits but the question would be regarding the licenses that are in process. Cody said that she and Fitzgibbon can feed back to the Liquor and Cannabis Board that there are concerns about disproportionality.

The executive is expected to send the county council a proposal soon, said Alan Painter, yet another King County rep who was sitting in the audience. So, he exhorted, work with the county now. “The concerns of the White Center community have been heard, the concerns of the Skyway cmmunity have been heard there are some differences of opnion over that, it’s going to be sorted out over the next three months.”

Dobkin pointed out that they’ve been voicing their concerns over the past year and they don’t feel they’ve been heard.

Painter said he disagreed – “there were 18 dispensaries and now there are three” (following the summertime crackdown announcement).

“But now we’re talking about the stores,” she said, and noted that regarding dispensaries “it took until there were eight in our little community before there was a moratorium,” though they were illegal to start with. “We have been speaking up for a long time about this.”

NHUAC board member Giba asked Painter if the sheriff gets copies of the requests for information before the state grants licenses. “Is he listened to any more than you are?”

A county rep replied yes, it’s similar to liquor-license input.

Hitchcock said that state law says they only have to take into consideration criminal behavior, so it’s important that they hear about criminal behavior if it’s going on.

Maj. Wills says he does get liquor license renewal forms looking for info.

He was challenged by an attendee saying that state liquor control board reps at community-safety meetings in past years said they never got input from KCSO.

Subsequent discussion brought up whether anyone was trying to limit the number of stores. Hitchcock asked about the primary concern – diversity of businesses, youth use, crime, or … Dobkin said White Center is challenged on a variety of fronts and that’s the main concern, “is this helping the community in any way …. and yes, we do need better diversity of businesses .. we had a yoga studio in downtown White Center that couldn’t stay open longer than a year, we have two halal stores that shut down” even though the area has a large Muslim population, and she said its owners reported their customers didn’t feel safe coming downtown.

It was noted that the county is apparently getting almost a million dollars from marijuana tax this year. What if that money all stayed in WC? How would the community feel? asked an attendee.

Freeman from the county executive’s office said she thinks that number is inaccurate – too high. Challenged on that point, she promised to do research on the expected amount of money and what will be done with it.

Hitchcock at that point said that much of the studies she’s mentioned will focus in south King County. It was then suggested that the focus should be on changing the county’s zoning policies, which are what’s being enforced here. Dobkin said it was never clarified previously “who was in charge.” Hitchcock clarified that the county is accountable for zoning, not licensing.

Dobkin said they’ve been in close contact with local County Councilmember Joe McDermott, including a walking tour and many phone conversations, regarding concerns.

A lawsuit was brought up regarding Bellevue’s dispersion rule – “it’s being challenged to the state court of appeals,” said Hitchcock. It could be relevant here because of the precedent, she added in response to a question.

One attendee clarified that she is not saying that a vibrant business district couldn’t include marijuana businesses.

Another asked what the KCSO is seeing regarding marijuana uses among youth. Maj. Wills said, anecdotally, “we are seeing a steady rise with youth utilizing marijuana -how they’re getting it, I’m not going to suggest. … Without making a societal statement here, perhaps the acceptance of marijuana and other drugs is making it more appealing …”

Rep. Cody said the reports have been that more kids are “vaping” marijuana, though it’s not necessarily that they’ve gotten it from one of the 502 stores. “But the real problem we have is heroin – we have a heroin epidemic going on. I had a kid in my office last year, he is clean now, he was raised in Bellevue, and how he had gotten addicted was from opioids from a knee injury in high school, that a (doctor) let him have,” and then when his prescriptions expired, he started smoking heroin, then shooting up, then flunked out of school and finally got treatment.

In the end, no conclusions, but a spirited discussion.

NHUAC meets most months on the first Thursday, 7 pm, at the North Highline Fire District HQ, 1243 SW 112th.

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UPDATE: Police investigate death in a car along Myers Way, believed to be suicide victim

January 8th, 2016 at 2:22 pm Posted in White Center news | Comments Off on UPDATE: Police investigate death in a car along Myers Way, believed to be suicide victim

If you traveled Myers Way just east of White Center and north of Top Hat, you might have seen multiple Seattle Police cars and yellow police tape, surrounding a red car with a white sheet on the driver’s side. The call went out as “assault with weapons” for Seattle Fire to answer; when we arrived, SFD was already gone – there was nothing they could do; police tell us they believe the person in the car was a victim of suicide. The car was on the shoulder at 99th and Myers, but police had the outside lane blocked, and were directing traffic both ways through the remaining lanes.

Thoughts of self-harm? Crisis Clinic can help, 24 hours a day – the local hotline is 206-461-3222.

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Three White Center food and drink notes

January 8th, 2016 at 10:05 am Posted in Beverages, Food, White Center news | 2 Comments »

Three notes from the White Center food and drink world, all along 16th SW:

NEW RESTAURANT AT 16TH/ROXBURY: The former TJ’s Soul Food and Pho Lynna storefront on the southeast corner, long vacant, now sports a new sign, for Taqueria Los Potrillos, “coming soon”:

Thanks to Gill for first word of the sighting. Looks like there are other restaurants by this name around the region, including one in Renton.

LUSO FOOD AND WINE FAREWELL: While looking around 16th/Roxbury for any more info about the new restaurant, we noticed that what had been Luso Food and Wine was empty. Checking online, looks like it’s been a few weeks since Luso closed.

BYE-BYE, BEIGNETS: Mardi Gras Donuts‘ run in WC is over. One month after cutting back to weekends only, they announced on New Year’s Day – no surprise if you’d noticed the covered-over windows – that they’re closed forever.

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